A Pacific perspective on the NZ election: Go vote or stay there!
By Alan Ah Mu
And so another election looms. September 23 it’s on? Yes, 23rd September it’s on but you have to remind yourself of the date because who cares?
Not I. Because the result is already known. Either National or Labour wins.
The Greens, New Zealand First, Maori Party, ACT, are in the mix to help prop one or the other of those two main parties.
For us Pacific Islanders, now called Pasifika, election results do not change one, two or anything. Because decade after decade after decade of either National or Labour governments, Pasifika remain where we’ve always been: at the bottom of the economy. Us and Maori.
Researchers or writers of reports love to group us together. Why they do this is a puzzle, since Maori settled Aotearoa first, and then there’s us who arrived much later – immigrants. Now with children and grandchildren or great grandchildren born here to be sure, but a different group altogether in the time frame.
The point is, in election after election, no report has surfaced for instance, to say Maori and Pasifika are 60 percent more likely to be home owners than other Kiwis, down from 80 percent in the previous five years. Nor has a news item ever announced since the beginning of time, “Maori and Pasifika have once again topped the employment count according to the latest figures.”
Who ran the country in all that time? Answer: Labour or National did.
So disgust accompanies boredom when elections swing around again.
With placement at the bottom of society forever the result for us, it is a mystery why Maori and Pasifika ever cast one vote for either Labour or National in elections! Because such behavior only give jobs to people who produce for them the same result every time. After all these decades, the same pathetic result.
But we do vote for these hopeless performers. The habit was understandable in the days before proportional representation when there were more or less just two political parties on offer.
Surely now it is time to break such an addiction, which like legal drugs such as tobacco and alcohol, give temporary pleasure but does no good at all medium to long-term to our circumstances.
According to various media, the polls said Labour was going to get creamed these elections. So National it is again. That is until Andrew Little resigned and his deputy Jacinda Adern took over the leadership mantle and unleashed an enthusiasm for Labour as evidenced by a reported upsurge in donations.
“Jacindamania” has broken out apparently. A contest is in progress finally, one political commentator said.
Columnist Duncan Garner goes, “She [Adern] comes across as positive, fresh, new, and keen on progress … She’s been nothing short of a revelation.”
The excitement over Adern, the self-inflicted troubles for the Greens, attention-grabbing Winston Peters, whose support will decide the next government experts predict, surprise move by Peter Dunne in falling on his sword, matters not for the circumstances of those who dwell at the lowest economic levels. That’s us, Pasifika, in case you fell asleep.
But you know, such carry-on do provide entertainment and laughter which doctors say is good for the health. But really, in terms of who we should vote for, do any of them have policies that when/if implemented will lift the economic lot of Pasifika and change what has been happening election after election after election since Labour first came into power in the 1935 election and Australia-born Michael Joseph Savage became the 23rd Prime Minister?
But for the 23 September 2017 event, fearfully, whoever is going to be the 40th Prime Minister, even the woman with the big smile, the predictable answer will most likely prevail. Which is: No to lifting Pasifika’s economic lot.
Based on solid historic data, whether Labour under Adern or National wins, it won’t budge our lot from where we are on the economic ladder.
What the speeches, the photos with babies, the clever one-liners, promises, arguments, probably red or blue balloons at campaign rallies etc., etc., is aimed at is to firm up tribal bonds no matter how toxic they actually are to welfare, and produce a triumph of emotion over reason.
Political campaigns seek to impose the effect of Midazolam on voters.That is the sedative which a doctor uses to stupefy some Maori and Pasifika patients before committing crimes against them, a court has found.
Descriptions like “Left” and “Right” are used around election time. Labour is associated with the Left, because they champion the working class – at least with words – where most Maori and Pasifika belong, and thus most in both groups are believed to be loyal to this party. The Nats of course form the “Right.”
In terms of effectiveness for Pasifika, such terms mean horse manure. Left or Right or Right of Centre or whatever, hasn’t lifted us out of low economic status since to repeat, the beginning of time.
Mind you, there was excitement, a little, did stir for elections when Maori Party joined with a new political entrant, One Pacific Party, for the 2017 campaign.
In particular, when Dr. Joe Williams, former Prime Minister of the Cook Islands and a co-leader of The One Pacific Party, said on Te Karere news: “The question that our leaders have been asking is ‘What has the Labour Party done for you? The answer is, ‘Nothing.'”
The ring of truth about the statement caused the stir of excitement. If National was the party asked about, the answer would be the same I suspect.
There is a logic to the new political alliance mentioned. If Pasifika and Maori are mentioned as a block, as is often the case, it seems logical for them to then join politically and see if they can win something. Might as well. Nothing else has worked to get their economic status higher than bottom.
Last year Head of State of Samoa, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Ta’isi Efi, said, “the cause of the Maori and the cause of the Samoan are intertwined and inseparable.” What “the cause” is Tui Atua did not elaborate, but one of them is surely a desire for improvement of economic circumstances.
Did experience some excitement also when The Opportunities Party launched. Given the inability of the big parties and their little allies, where else is a Pasifika voter to look except to new offerings?
Plus leader Gareth Morgan stays in contact via email and says things plainly, like “For f …’s sake,” while being filmed, and a phrase that comes to mind when Little exchanged glasses for contact lens and English tried some home cooking for the public to see. Such activities seem as cosmetic as the policies of their parties.
Unaffordable houses can be a thing of the past if equity on them are taxed the same as any other income, Morgan argues. Now there’s a policy. Because it strikes at the core of a big problem whereby speculators are encouraged to buy houses then sell them for profit and thus ensure prices go up and up and up and away from the grasp of the poor and the young.
No way will homeowners, which includes most of the present Members of Parliament, are expected to support that in great numbers, but their children and grandchildren faced with insane amounts of deposits required for a house, and of course, the perpetual strugglers, Maori and Pasifika, might.
And so we mount the Election merry-go-round with National and Labour with their little allies tinkering here, tinkering there around election time, make a splash here, a splash over there, while the problem of unaffordable houses continues on it’s merry upward way, waving goodbye at those below who grow smaller and smaller to view.
The shock of returning after 28 years away to see on Bay Road, the main drag of Kilbirnie shopping area, three beggars stationed at various spots remains. In shock you ask yourself, “Beggars, here in Kilbirnie? What’s happened? A few days later, on the same street a young man, approached from behind and says, “Bro, have you got some spare change?”
A smile and a shake of the head to say “no” was all the reaction possible because of the shock of what had just happened. People do this now? Here? Who was in charge of the country then?
Why the Labour/National tag team of course, in love with their market forces thingy through which benefits, according to their advertisements, would trickle down to those in need and everything will be efficient and wonderful. What horseshit…oops…horse manure.
A glazed scan of the freshies amongst the politicians stopped at TOP’s Ted Faleauto Johnston because his middle name appeared to be Pasifika, Samoan it looked like.
What Dr. Williams said above, what Johnston said below, describes the perpetual repetitive situation.
Raised in Otara, Johnston said he worked as a criminal lawyer for almost 25 years in South Auckland.
“In all those years very little has changed for the poor and disadvantaged, despite all the promises and policies of the old parties,” he said.
“Establishment parties have represented us so badly, for so long, that many voters are resigned to a lack of change and now don’t even bother voting.
“Unaffordable and poor quality housing, traffic congestion, the high cost of basics like milk and petrol, and companies stifling wage growth for low paid workers while awarding senior executives handsome salary increases is dispiriting and divisive.
“Parents and children are suffering, and poverty is driving up crime rates, the incidence of mental illness and youth suicide rates in these poorer neighbourhoods.”
A choice presents itself. Either live in resignation of the lack of change and not bother to vote. Or be bothered and go vote.
If the latter is the path chosen, then study the policies on offer in the areas of for example, job creation, pay and education, housing of course, being offered by the political parties.
The parties that will give us such things should get our vote. The ones who don’t should not get our vote. If change is desired to just sigh “Aue,” leave it at that won’t do.
It is hard to study policies especially as they come at us hard and fast, something that will increase the closer to the elections we go.
But as a Maori proverb says, “Kaua te mate wheke, engari mate ururoa.” Do not die unresisting like an octopus, die like a hammershark whose flesh twitches even as it is being filleted. In other words it is hard – but never give up.
By the way, a Radio New Zealand story on August 3rd, 2017 reported an all too familiar situation, namely that “Maori and Pasifika have higher unemployment rates.”
Vote or stay there.